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Budget Waste Is Laid To 13 Local Officials

Dec 30,2000
Board of Audit Issues Warning for First Time

In an unprecedented move, the Board of Audit and Inspection issued a warning Friday to 13 local government heads who were found to have spent their budget recklessly.

According to the government operations watchdog, Kwon Moon-yong, head of the Gangnam district in Seoul, fabricated documents to make it appear as if his employees worked overtime every day between February 1999 and April this year, causing him to spend some 2.2 billion won ($1.7 million) in excess wages.

Mayors of Pusan, Masan, Kimhae and nine other heads of local governments were warned on similar grounds. An official from the audit and inspection agency said that while the warning has no legal authority, it could have a significant impact on the way budgets are administered at those localities in the future.

He added that the current system of budget administration, whereby local heads are allowed to spend money however they wish, needs to be reformed.

The city of Ansan in Kyonggi province obtained 24 billion won in loans and pursued a large-scale housing development project some years ago. While the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs told the city to reconsider the project in 1996, Ansan persisted.

When the city was forced to abandon the project in April this year because of lack of profit, it had already wasted 19.7 billion won on land acquisition, 1.1 billion won on designing the project and 5 billion won on loan interest.

Local governments that wasted more than 100 billion won on projects that were initiated but were never completed include Pusan (260 billion won), Seoul (200 billion won) and Kyonggi province (130 billion won).

Other instances of government waste abound. The Gwangsan district in the city of Kwangju is planning a 12 billion won theater for traditional Korean music when there are many theaters and museums in the city.

by Kim Sok-hyon




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